Vancouver chefs teach cooking classes for Arts Club Theatre Company fundraisers
The Arts Club Theatre Company kicked off its winter 2013 series of celebrity chef cooking classes on February 26, and I attended the event featuring Siena Restaurant executive chef Tim Evans as a media guest. It was my first experience with a professional chef-taught class, and at first, I was worried how my cooking skills would fare amongst other participants. What I learned, however, is that the class attracts a diverse group of people—some who, like me, were ready to put on an apron and get our hands dirty, and others who preferred to mingle with a glass of wine while the dishes were being prepared.
Tim Evans hails from Gloucestershire, England, and started his career cooking at Michelin-starred Restaurant Martin Wishart in Scotland and Le Gavroche in London. After moving to Vancouver, he worked at CinCin before joining the now-closed Cru Restaurant as sous chef, followed by being appointed executive chef at Siena. Each celebrity chef cooking class is held at a different private home. Last night’s event was hosted by long-time Arts Club patrons at their ocean-view house in Point Grey. After a short welcome speech by Arts Club Theatre Company artistic director Bill Millerd, Chef Evans and his assistant chef got to work creating the night’s first dish.
The starting dish of the evening was line-caught albacore tuna crudo with sweet-and-sour cherry tomato. I was given the (important) task of separating basil leaves, which would be used to wrap the tuna in, while another event participant helped season the fish. Within the first hour, our appetizer dish was plated and served. The evening’s four wine pairings were provided by Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery (each event features a different winemaker), and the first wine we tasted was the Ogopogo’s Lair pinot grigio.
The second dish was a blood orange and shaved fennel salad dressed with sunflower shoots, pea greens, and limoncello vinaigrette. Again, some attendees jumped in to lend a hand, while others preferred to watch the action from across the kitchen counter, snapping photos, and sipping on the second wine pairing, the Council’s Punch Bowl sauvignon blanc.
The main course was by far the biggest hit of the night. Grappa- and thyme-marinated Haida Gwaii sablefish that was so silky and flavourful there were audible oohs and aahs during the first few bites. Even though the fish was served over a bed of rich Spanish saffron risotto that required more butter and cheese than I care to admit, the dish still conformed to the Mediterranean diet (the evening’s culinary theme) that we commonly associate with healthy eating.
The final item of the night, however, was shamelessly sinful: a chocolate ganache-filled shortbread tart topped with espresso and hazelnut mascarpone. Participants were given the option to pair dessert with either a glass of Bordeaux-style red wine or a cup of espresso.
The Arts Club Theatre Company’s celebrity cooking classes take place once a week through March. The next event featuring chef Quang Dang from West restaurant on March 3 is sold out, as is the class on March 14 taught by MARKET by Jean-Georges chef de cuisine Wayne Harris. Tickets, which are $125 (including a $50 tax receipt), are still available for March 11 with YEW restaurant + bar’s pastry chef Bruno Feldeisen and March 28 with YEW restaurant + bar’s executive sous chef Craig Dryhurst. More details can be found on the Arts Club Theatre Company’s website.